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The emergent paradigm of metaverse marketing

The emergent paradigm of metaverse marketing
Opinion

Brands must create inclusive, immersive worlds for their customers to win in the new metaverse marketing paradigm.

 

Never trust anyone who claims to be a metaverse expert. 

Like buying a Rolex off a bloke on the street, it’s one of those things you just shouldn’t do. Metaverse experts don’t exist. The truth is we’re all figuring it out as we go. 

To start with, the term metaverse is confusing. It’s been conflated to mean anything related to a virtual world, as well as a catch-all term for various blockchain technologies. 

These are two different things. A metaverse is an immersive 3D world delivered over the internet, whereas blockchain is a way of storing and brokering digital assets. Brands potentially need both things to add transactional elements to their 3D worlds, but the umbrella term for this is web 3.0, rather than metaverse. 

Investing in the creation of branded custom worlds

With this in mind, there are several different approaches brands are taking when it comes to experimenting with 3D worlds in a web 3.0 ecosystem. 

Many like Gucci, Nike and Wendy’s have focused on buying eyeballs in existing environments such as Roblox or Fortnite. Even the famed Wimbledon has announced a virtual experience, WimbleWorld, to engage a new generation of tennis fans. This is fine if you’re seeking reach or top of funnel awareness, but arguably a more effective approach is to flip that model and invest in the creation of your own custom world. Brands including BMW and Fender, as well as agencies like my own Wunderman Thompson and McCann Worldgroup are trialling this approach.  

Building a bespoke virtual experience where your customers feel comfortable being their digital selves is a great way of building lower funnel engagement, driving loyalty and potentially boosting conversion.

There are several things to keep in mind when taking this approach:

  • Know your brand – what do you want to offer people? Is it a space for them to engage with you or connect with others? The Mini brand is all about fun, standing apart from others in how it brings this fun to life in a cheeky and unconventional way. They replicated this in the virtual world through their experience which allows players to drive around while spectators can either help or hinder the racers.
  • Find a partner who can take your vision and bring it to life in a high-fidelity environment that will enable people to access the space from any device, any time.
  • Do something that will inspire your customers, instead of trying to recreate something someone else has done. The metaverse is powerful because it offers limitless opportunities for customer experience, so use that to your advantage to offer them an experience they will truly engage with from wherever they are in the world. 

Brands taking this approach can then harness the power of their existing marketing channels to drive the right kind of eyeballs, to achieve the right kind of results, in a completely controlled environment. That is the new definition of a hyperconnected, omnichannel campaign. 

The fluidity of digital identity

The importance of creating immersive spaces that not only reflect your brand, but also the desire of your customers to express their true digital identify is only going to become more important. 

Thanks to increasing time spent online, the once binary distinction between real and virtual worlds is being eroded. Consequently, the concept of identity for younger consumers now squarely includes their digital selves. 

Moreover, digital identifies can be fluid. You can have one persona in one environment and a completely different once in another. If brands can recognize this and create inclusive, immersive worlds for their customers, limited only by their imagination rather than real-world constraints, they’re going to win in the new metaverse marketing paradigm. 

Anyone want to buy a Rolex? 

 

Gareth Jones is SVP global marketing at Wunderman Thompson.

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